Physicians ask CMS for relief from concurrent regulations

The American Medical Association, 59 medical specialty societies, and state medical associations sent a letter March 28 to Marilyn Tavenner, acting Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator, pleading for relief from government regulation and impending penalties.

The letter expressed concern about an onslaught of regulations that affect physicians. Programs with overlapping timelines include the value-based modifier, penalties under the e-prescribing program, physician quality reporting system (PQRS) and the electronic health record incentive program that is part of the meaningful use program -- and the transition to ICD-10.

“Facing all of these deadlines at once is overwhelming to physicians, whose top priority is patients,” said AMA President-elect Jeremy Lazarus, MD. “We have asked CMS to develop solutions for implementing these regulations in a way that reduces the burden on physicians and allows them to keep their focus where it should be – caring for patients.”

The letter stated that without needed changes from CMS, physicians must transition to the ICD-10 coding system; spend significant time and resources implementing EHRs into their practices; work to successfully participate in the Medicare e-prescribing program; meet EHR meaningful use standards; and participate in PQRS – all within a short amount of time.

“In addition to these upcoming deadlines, physicians who treat Medicare patients are also currently facing a drastic cut of about 30 percent on January 1 from the broken Medicare physician payment formula,” Lazarus said. “The combination of these financial burdens could prevent physicians from making the investments needed to transition to new models of care delivery and improve the value and quality of care in the Medicare system.”

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